The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began on Monday with the showing of the video clip that was recorded by a passerby of the death of George Floyd.

The White police officer knelt on Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, prosecutors said, correcting the 8:46 timing that has become a symbol of police brutality.

Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell, in his opening statement, repeatedly emphasised the new 9:29 timing, telling jurors they were the “three most important numbers in this case.”

He broke down the timing of Chauvin’s kneeling into three sections: 4 minutes and 45 seconds as Floyd cried out for help, 53 seconds as Floyd flailed due to seizures and 3 minutes and 51 seconds as Floyd was non-responsive.

Chauvin’s defense similarly accepted the new timing as accurate to support its own arguments.

A witness for the prosecution, Donald Williams III, said Floyd was “slowly fading away” during the nine minutes Chauvin kneeled on his back and neck.

Chauvin’s lawyer argued his use of force was “unattractive but necessary”.

This trial is being seen by many as a pivotal moment in US race relations.

Williams, a 33-year-old entrepreneur, narrated the details of the harrowing incident as it happened.

He said had been planning to enter the Cup Foods shop, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when he witnessed the arrest of Floyd on 25 May 2020.

He said he decided against entering the shop because “the energy was off”, and instead began a conversation with the police officers and urged them to check Floyd’s pulse.

He told the court he could see Floyd’s life slipping away. “He’s slowly fading away like a fish in a bag,” he said. “His eyes slowly rolled to the back of his head” until “he didn’t have no life in him no more in his body”.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors that Floyd said 27 times that he could not breathe.

The tape proves Chauvin was “engaging in behaviour that was imminently dangerous… without regard for its impact on the body of George Floyd,” he said.

Defence lawyer Eric Nelson, in his opening statements, said that the evidence “is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds” of video footage.

Jena Scurry, the 911 police despatcher, who deployed police to the Cup Foods shop after Floyd was reported for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, told the court that she thought the “screens had frozen” because of the length of time Floyd was kept on the ground and became “concerned that something might be wrong”.

The May 25, 2020, incident sparked protests in the US and across the world against police brutality and racism.

Chauvin, 45, who was dismissed from the police, denies murder and manslaughter charges, which carry sentences of up to 40 years in prison.

Three other officers present – Tou Thao, J Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane – will go on trial later in the year.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here